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Taylor Mill Sends Off Fire Chief Dennis Halpin

The City of Taylor Mill said goodbye to Fire Chief Dennis Halpin Wednesday night at a special reception held at the Pride Park Community Center. Halpin told the city of his decision to retire early this year, so the city has been fielding applicants to fill the position of fire chief, although everyone acknowledges that Halpin is very hard to replace.
“We will always miss Dennis during budget time,” joked Dan Bell, Mayor of Taylor Mill.
“He would always bring what he wanted for the department, and we would give him what he needed. But seriously, we will miss the relationship he has with all the people here at the city. We tease back and forth, but we are going to miss him.”
Dennis Halpin grew up in Park Hills, Kentucky, and attended St. Agnes school and then Dixie Heights. Upon graduation, Halpin joined the National Guard in Ohio, where he stayed on as full time, becoming a tech mechanic.
“My dad and two brothers were volunteer firefighters at Park Hills fire department,” said Halpin. “I was a volunteer for almost five years at Park Hills. I was also a part time police officer at Park Hills, Winston Park, and Taylor Mill.”
Mayor Dan Bell and Fire Chief Dennis Halpin
Halpin was a volunteer firefighter at Taylor Mill and rose to the rank of Volunteer Fire Chief in 1987, making him the first in his family to achieve the title of fire chief.
“It is definitely in the blood,” stated Halpin. “Firefighters are close, they are more like a family. I know the 43 people under me are like family. They do a hell of a job.”
At the time, ladies ran the Life Squad, and Fire, Inc. contracted their services to Taylor Mill. In 1996 the city merged all the services together under one city department, and Halpin was over it all. Under his direction, the department became the state of the art fire department that it is today.
“We have better equipment and better training now, and we have Advanced Life Support,” Halpin said proudly. “But we all did it together—we are an efficient team. It has been a long journey, and my department works hard to give the best for the people in our city.”
So why retire now?
“I thought it was time for a change,” said Halpin. “I love the job. But when you get older, the bones start creaking and cracking, and you get tired. It has been 35 years, 24 of those years full time. I get up at four am, and start work at 5 am. Now I realize that I am going to go from 50 to 60 hours to nothing, so after a month or two I will be looking for stuff to do.”
Halpin has no firm plans for his retirement, but he and his wife Kathy plan to visit Las Vegas for about five days.
“I don’t like to travel and neither does Kathy, but we take three day trips to visit the kids every now and then,” he explained. “I am not a gambler and the shows out there are not really to my liking, but I would like to see where they do Pawn Stars, and Rick’s Restoration, and the Custom Cars. That should fill up the time. After we get back, I don’t really know what I will do, but I will do something. I don’t like sitting around.”
Many firefighters came to the reception to shake the hand of the man who has been their leader for many years. Volunteer John Simpson and his family came, and he brought a framed picture of himself and the chief.
“The chief gave me a chance to be a firefighter,” said Simpson, who has been a volunteer for three years. “I had put my application in all over the place, and couldn’t get in anywhere. I have wanted to be a fireman ever since I saw my first ladder truck go by when I was very little. Chief Halpin gave me that chance. I will miss him a lot. He always asks about my family, and how I am doing. He does a great job as chief, and he has a big heart.”
Story & photos by Patricia A. Scheyer, RCN contributor